Did you know a 16-year-old invented a pancreatic cancer detector, and a 19-year-old has launched a massive Ocean cleanup project? Stories of teen creators and thought leaders are aplenty. This begs the question – are teens more passionate than the world gives them credit for?
While most associate teenage years with being lazy and clicking selfies, in reality, GenZ is full of creativity and resilience.
Take for example Swedish teen Greta Thunberg, who organized the “Fridays for Future” school strike for climate and got the world to start talking about the looming threat of climate change. The teenager admits to being ‘painfully shy’, and yet she sparked a global movement with her determination!
Inside the Mind of a Teenager
For several years, the teenage mind has fascinated researchers. Many studies have shown that adolescence is a time when the propensity for taking risks is the highest. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, given that it pushes the boundaries of creativity and divergent thinking.
While many adults are conditioned by their environment to think in one pattern, adolescents seldom have such mental blockers. You’ll often find grown-ups focusing on things they cannot achieve or what cannot be done. To a teenage mind, however, every problem can be solved!
That’s why one sees so many teens today at the forefront of social movements, leading entrepreneurial projects and injecting energy and new ideas into public life.
According to scientists, the teenage brain is at a unique neurological stage. It retains the creativity of childhood years and at the same time, also starts gaining the adult ability to make social connections, and discover interests.
Their mind adapts quickly and has immense potential for learning. It’s a golden time to explore and figure out a passion!
The Road to Self Discovery
It’s a time when you start noticing your natural abilities and things that interest you. Take this opportunity to figure out who you are as an individual, separate from the family tribe, and as a person with a unique personality.
Self-discovery is a constant learning journey. It means finding your purpose in life (it takes time but we all get there!), it means digging deep and understanding the experiences and ideas that shape you. It means realizing what your values and beliefs are and living by them.
This road to self-discovery includes happiness, self-awareness, clarity and sometimes even enlightenment!
Think about what excites you and start exploring your interests. It will even help you answer the age-old question: ‘What am I passionate about?’
While some teens may be naturally inclined to think about life’s big questions, others may need a little encouragement. Start by asking yourself these questions:
What am I good at?
Which activities bring me happiness?
What are my personal characteristics?
Who do I aspire to be like?
While not everything in your teenage years is linked to self-discovery and figuring out a passion, being mindful of how you spend your time and being open to experiences can shape your future like nothing else can!
Start with small passion projects. If dancing, singing or performing arts excite you, go ahead and learn them. In case making and editing videos are your forte, open a YouTube channel. If writing brings you joy, start with a blog.
Try out new hobbies, join a class and do things that make you happy. Amid all this, you are sure to find your Ikigai – your raison d’etre!
It’s not a brand-new concept. It’s been around since before formal education was normalized. This concept, called project-based learning, is simply a method of learning that heavily depends on problem-solving and innovating through practical application. Let’s understand this better.
What is project-based learning?
The project-based learning model is the method of learning and grasping new knowledge through practical and project-based methods. Further, it’s known to help learners acquire deeper knowledge through active exploration of real-world challenges and problems.
While textbooks give you the foundations, real-world experiences give you the wings to fly and discover what you want to be. The conventional learning paradigm has a one-way flow of pre-prepared information. On the contrary, project-based learning or problem-based learning lets you discover interests and passions via a whole new world of innovation and creativity.
Examples of project-based learning activities include creating volcanos, monuments, or even solar systems for school projects. Finding solutions to environmental issues, pitching an innovative business idea are also some examples. Now that we know what it is, let’s dive into understanding how PBL helps young learners like yourself in the long run.
Advantages of project-based learning
Focuses on critical thinking and problem-solving
Project-based learning is essentially an inquiry-based method of learning that relies on solving problems through projects assigned to learners. In the long run, it enables you to view things critically in order to arrive at a solution that works. These skills go a long way in making you confident, job-ready and equipped for the future.
Builds Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTs)
Lower Order Thinking Skills or LOTs include remembering, recalling, understanding, and applying. On the other hand, skills such as analyzing, evaluating, synthesizing, and creating are categorized as HOTs. When broken down, HOTs include everything from creativity, sense of inquiry, problem-solving, teamwork, and so many more skills. Moreover, these skills play a big role in shaping your future as they enable you to find your expression in the world and are better equipped to overcome challenges.
Accommodates a variety of learning styles
Every learner prefers a style of learning that suits them best. Project-based learning takes this very fact into account and allows you to work to your own advantage or capabilities. How? While project-based learning gives you a problem to solve or a project to complete, the method by which you choose to arrive at the end is entirely up to you. You can work to your strengths and build more specific interests over time.
Promotes independent learning and creativity
The ability to learn independently and test one’s creative boundaries is a skill often credited to this learning method (PBL). In this method, you are given the opportunity and tools to think out of the box and arrive at unconventional solutions to real-world problems presented before you. This not only sets you apart from the crowd but helps boost your confidence too.
Encourages self-determined and self-directed learning
Through projects, you are given the canvas to explore and solve real-world challenges that require critical thinking. Something as simple as designing a marketing campaign for a sneaker launch can build a lifelong love for communication, maybe designing or even creative writing! It not only helps you build a deeper understanding of a concept but also encourages self-directed and self-determined learning. This, in turn, gives you all the necessary tools to understand your innate strengths and interests.
Challenges your limits
Real-world experiences teach learners skills such as resilience, divergent thinking, and perseverance. In the real world, you as a learner, get to express your unique opinions, approaches, and ideas. When you work on projects, there are no boundaries to expressing creativity. To take it further, it even allows you to push your limits and come up with 50 different solutions to a single problem, which then leads to innovation!
Makes learning fun
A very important factor to take into consideration is that often young learners struggle to grasp complex theories, lose interest quickly, and can’t quite put 2 and 2 together. By following a project-based learning model, you get to find your unique ways to obtain the same knowledge. Projects become intrinsically fun, engaging, and interesting. This definitely contributes in removing the intimidation that traditional learning methods often come with.
At this point, you must have asked yourself this question at least once: Are there any downsides to this method? Let’s take a look.
Disadvantages of project-based learning
Requires time for research and implementation
Since project-based learning does not follow the rules of traditional learning, it can sometimes be hard to put a timeline to it. Learners should be given sufficient time to explore their ideas and creativity before arriving at a solution.
Poses challenges for educators
In order to incorporate a project-based learning model into the curriculum, instructors have to drastically shift their teaching methodologies. They must find a means of assessing a student’s performance and take into consideration factors such as tasks completed, overall work, manner of arriving at a solution, communication among fellow students and team members, etc. Especially since it does not follow traditional assessment guidelines.
What are some project-based learning activities?
Here are some great starter project-based learning activities that learners can try at home:
Script your own TED talk: Find a subject or topic that a learner would love to talk about and draft a script around it. Doing so will help them find their voice, express themselves and communicate about the things they’re passionate about.
Make an infographic: Pick a topic the learner has researched previously and ask them to concise their knowledge into an infographic.
Create a photo essay: Pictures are an extremely impactful method for learners to grasp and retain information. Task them with creating a photo essay of a topic they find challenging.
In fact, you can find more exciting project-based learning activities and challenges on the Uable app, right here.
Is project-based learning effective?
We’ve read about the pros and cons but is project-based learning really that effective? The answer is subjective. Because the method of teaching and learning is both dependent on the teacher and learner respectively, the outcome may vary for all. Some learners thrive with a project-based learning model, where practical implementation of knowledge plays a key role. Keep in mind that every learner is different and what works for one may not work for the other.
That said, problems-based learning or project-based learning is a great way to become an industry-fit professional and a resilient individual. A cycle of reflection and creation enables learners to identify their strengths and improve their skills. Just as one cannot learn cycling until they sit on a cycle, merely knowing a domain doesn’t add any value until you start exploring it.
Here on the Uable app, learners can start by exploring and then deep diving into fields that interest them and start creating micro-projects to test their affinity. In the long run, these challenges will help groom them not just for a job or career, but for the big, big world beyond!
Uable is a daily space for learners where they can self-design their career discovery journeys – one challenge at a time! While academic knowledge gives you only a one-way flow of pre-prepared information, here you are free to explore at your own pace and interest. Based on your intrinsic motivation, curiosity and creativity, you can delve into diverse domains on the app and discover your talents and possible career paths.
Real-World Challenges for Real-World Learning
Imagine if you wanted to become a baker. Could you become successful just by watching baking videos alone? You’d have to bake lots of cakes (and burn a few as well) to master the art.
When you ‘learn by doing’, instead of just reading about it, something amazing happens. You become self-motivated and determined to understand a concept/ domain deeply. This leads you on a journey of self-discovery where you build long-lasting skills and discover your true potential. This is what we call real-world learning!
We encourage learners to unlock their hidden talents with the power of real-world challenges created by experts.
While you may have learnt a lot of abstract concepts in books, these challenge allows you to put them to use. They literally challenge you to think outside the box and apply your knowledge to create concrete and actionable output.
Challenges on the Uable app are nothing but a call to action to learn deeply about the subject that interests you!
Attempting the First Challenge
Getting started on your very first challenge is quite simple. Go to the challenges tab on the app to view dozens of challenges. You can pick from a range of domains like marketing, entrepreneurship, engineering and so much more. Once you chose a challenge, click on ‘unlock’ to start creating!
Things to Keep in Mind for Submitting Jaw-Dropping Creations
Glance through the community creations for a dose of inspiration. The global teen community’s creations allow you to look at the real-world challenges from a broader perspective. Make sure to save the creations that serve as your inspiration so that you can aspire to match their quality in the future!
Comprehend before you Create
Before you start creating, make sure you have understood the challenge clearly. Comprehend, create a plan, find the best solution, and then just let your creativity flow!
Break it Down
Break down each output of the creation. Does it call for photos/videos or a presentation? Remember to clearly articulate your message in the best way so that users will be able to engage better with your content.
Clean, Crisp, and Clear
The most important thing for any photo-based creation is that it should be clean and simple.
Avoid hard to read fonts styles and colours on your photo. Your main message will get missed out if your text is not readable!
Declutter: Remove unnecessay elements and embellishments.
Use a minimalist approach for colours. If your background colour is dark, use white colour for the font so that it’s easy to read and vice-versa.
Keep a balance between conveying your message and the aesthetic appeal. One should not overpower the other.
If it’s a video that you are going to submit then follow this strategy:
Stand against a clean and plain background so that your face is clearly visible.
The room should be well lit with the light falling directly on your face.
Reduce background noise
Take a deep breath before you start recording. Speak slowly and clearly.
Oraganise your key points on a piece of paper and keep it handy while recording.
It’s not possible that everyone with great ideas possesses the same creativity to make visually pleasing photos. But with the world at our fingertips now, anything is possible. There are many great tools out there like Canva, Adobe Spark, Snappa, and more. These platforms provide multiple features that will help you in your creations, whether simple or complex. They are pretty user-friendly, so you don’t have to be a know-it-all to use them.
Create, Learn, Repeat
While you follow the tips given above, make sure to abide by the Uable guidelines so that your efforts don’t go to waste. Try to keep the work as original, and if you do need incorporate someone else’s work, make sure to give them credit. While staying true to the challenge requirements, make sure you don’t give away personal information. Most importantly, don’t create disrespectful content, be mindful of the different age groups and backgrounds and be sensitive about your content to avoid any hindrance. Happy creating!
Ikigai. There’s no one way to properly describe what ikigai means; it’s a little bit of an emotion and a little bit of a state of being. But loosely translated, ikigai embodies the idea of happiness in living. It’s what drives you and wakes you up every morning with a sense of purpose. But it’s so much more than that too.
What is the meaning of ikigai?
Ikigai is a Japanese concept, compounding two words: iki (生き) meaning life or alive and kai (甲斐), pronounced gai, meaning an effect, result, fruit, worth or use. To summarize, it’s something that gives a person a sense of purpose or a reason for living. On a much deeper level, it’s a self-reflection process. Knowing your ikigai means understanding yourself, your values and what serves you in the real world.
But why are we telling you about this? Well, ikigai can play an important role in defining your life as a teenager and potentially answering one of the most crucial questions that you inherently ask yourself: what is my purpose?
The good part is that you’re not alone. Many more young learners and teenagers like yourself are plagued by what to study next, what to do, will I do well as a dancer, doctor, scientist, engineer, artist, or any other passion you want to explore.
As a young learner, ikigai can shape your motives and help you find your true passion. It can even serve as a way of finding the ‘why’ behind your actions and make you wonder whether it’s something that brings you joy or not. There’s really no better way to truly know yourself than by asking all the right (or wrong) questions. In fact, several studies have found that following the path of ikigai not only gives people clarity in their vision but also provides long-term health benefits too!
What is ikigai not?
Now that we know what ikigai is, it’s important to note that it’s not as simple as “following your passion”. A few simple factors differentiate ikigai from the latter:
Ikigai is challenging. It involves a lot of perseverance and personal growth.
Ikigai is a choice. You must feel responsible for your choice and journey.
Ikigai demands commitment. It’s a process that takes time and effort, and you won’t see a difference overnight.
Ikigai boosts your well-being. It encourages positive relationships and good health, leaving you with more energy to do what you really love.
How do I practice ikigai at a young age?
Life as a teenager can be filled with curveballs, full of emotions, excitement, impulsive decisions, and a lot of confusion. As a teenager, you are at the cusp in your life where you need to decide on a career, find a path, and so much more. It is at this stage that many end up blindly following unrealistic passions and wind up feeling discouraged when their dreams don’t materialize. Many others will resign themselves to careers that bring them money and status but no joy or fulfillment. The end goal of practicing ikigai as a teenager is to, as Mark Twain rightly said, ‘find a job you enjoy doing, and you will never have to work a day in your life’.
Now, you must be wondering how you can make this happen? Here’s how. First, start your journey by asking yourself these five crucial questions:
What does my best day look like? (Your perfect day, which brings you happiness)
What’s keeping me stagnant? (Is it your insecurities, fear, or doubts?)
What comes easy for me? (When you feel that time has passed so quickly you didn’t even realize it)
Who am I when alone? (Tap into your true inner self)
How can I help someone today? (Something you can offer another that also makes you happy) [Side note: An NPR research found that a teen’s self-esteem rises after volunteering or helping strangers]
These questions might seem philosophical or too deep to answer but they’ll go a long way in helping you find your calling. This is because ikigai for teens addresses inner crises and gently nudges them towards their goals. Answering all the above questions will help lay a rock-solid foundation and guide you in finding your passion or career.
Can ikigai help me find a career path?
Yes! Ikigai can help you navigate not just your life decisions but your career as well. Here are a few things you can follow to help you along the way:
Start by writing down these questions on a piece of paper and try to answer each one of them with as much honesty as possible:
What do you love to do?
What are you good at?
What does the world need?
What can you be rewarded for?
It’s good if you have all the answers, but it’s okay even if you don’t. Give yourself the time to think about them and answer them over time.
Let’s take for example that you’re an artist who loves to tell stories. You’ll realize that you have many career options to choose from such as an illustrator, a writer, a painter, or a filmmaker. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way of finding purpose. There’s only your way. So, don’t be too quick to judge yourself. You can always add, remove, and modify your ikigai along the way.
It’s not a race against time
Ikigai is not about getting things right or becoming a millionaire. Instead, it’s about your personal growth and finding the right place for yourself in the scheme of things. Remember not to pressurize yourself along the way. But always be curious; it will take you a long way. With some trial and error, you will be able to uncover your purpose and passion.
Let your ikigai be the north star for you. And never forget, it is a process and it will take time.
Discover your ikigai with Uable’s real-world learning
At Uable, teenagers can immerse themselves in real-world experiences to explore their interests and passions, and discover what they truly want to do. We enable real-world learning with the power of challenges created by global experts on the app. They lead to immediate, bite-size learning and build excitement around the theme or the domain that interests you.
It pushes you to leverage experience, harness internal and external resources, develop a plan, and move forward to find the best solution. Along the way, there is experimentation, failure, and ultimately, success!
You can get started by exploring challenges across domains like entrepreneurship, marketing, tech, and many more. Interact with experts, brands, organizations, and find like-minded peers who share common interests. It’s an exciting place for self-discovery and finding your ikigai!
Once you hit a certain age, everyone you meet keeps recycling these very questions. Even so, if you still feel like you’re always caught off-guard and don’t have the right answer yet, that’s normal. It’s okay to not know what you want to do next. But here’s what you can do instead.
Explore. The real solution to career discovery is to keep exploring through real-world learning – where you learn by doing, instead of just reading about it in textbooks. It’s a crucial step to long-term life success and can help you go beyond test scores, therefore leading you to a path of self-discovery.
How to choose the right career?
Finding your career path is an important task, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful one. We’ve put together a few tips you can explore to help you arrive at a career path you might thrive in. Read on to find out.
Explore your skillset
Before you find a career that is right for you, you must spend time understanding your talents, your skills, and your best qualities. Start by setting apart some time to:
Research your available options and paths
Think about your field of interests
Discover and optimize your strengths
Doing so can help you find a middle ground that ticks all the boxes of personal affinity towards the career, passion for the job, and your ability to excel at it.
Don’t limit yourself to passion
If you have a passion that you find scalable, that’s a great place to start. For the others, it’s important to think about your passion and still focus on the ultimate impact of your effort. About 75% of respondents to a survey in America said they had changed their career at least once, and approximately 33% thinking of changing yet again. So, finding the right fit is crucial.
Let your passion guide you, but don’t forget to put in the hard work, commitment and dedication. Think about how scalable your passion is, the work or skills it requires, and how you score on that scale. A good way to do this is by constantly indulging yourself in project-based learning activities and real-world challenges that can help give you the big picture of what the next few years of your life look like.
Try a personality test
Personality tests are a great tool for self-discovery, allowing you to come to terms with your skills and talents. Some tests you can try include Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) and the Big Five Personality Test. While these will not give you a definitive answer on what your career path should be, they’ll help you understand what role might suit your personality, characteristics, and skills.
Look for overlaps
What you know, what a company expects, and what you want to achieve may differ, but the connection between the three should be clear. Learn how to interpret your skills and abilities instead of looking for any job. Look back at past experiences to guide you towards your future. What did you like to do in the past? What did you not like about it?
Shortlist your choices
Fortunately or unfortunately, you can’t do it all. Work smart, never more. After exploring a basket list of options, cut them down to the top 3 or 5 by analyzing which of your talents and abilities can actually make a good fit for a potential future career path. The best way to shortlist is by making a list of the pros and cons and really asking yourself, “Is this something I’d love to do for the rest of my life?”.
Attend career fares
Career fairs are a good place to start exploring your options. They help you acquire knowledge, open your eyes to options you didn’t even consider before, and even see which university has what you’re looking for. They’re far less intimidating than going on university visits and you can even meet like-minded individuals with the same interests as yours!
Network your way to career discovery
When you are actively looking for a new career or trying to figure out which way to go, it’s a great way to get your feet in the water and seek help from those already in it. When you meet more people, you can gain more insight into how they work, why they love their work. Networking with like-minded people on the same career trajectory that you hope to insert yourself into is a wonderful way to get exposure without actually doing the work. Ask the right questions, find out what a regular workday looks like for them, and get the details. Who knows, you might even find a mentor in the process and that’s a career gold mine! In fact, surveys reveal that around 85% of the jobs gained are networked.
Seek professional internships
Do you know what a veterinarian does all day? Or what a PR manager does all day? There is no better way to learn a job than by trial and error, experimenting, and understanding if you’re the right fit. For example, you can always reach out to friends or family who run or work in businesses of your interest and ask for potential internship openings. They could help put in a word and you get the exposure in return.
Hold on to what inspires you
This is an obvious step: everyone wants to enjoy their work and appreciate it. If you are afraid to talk about work, it is the most significant sign that you are on the wrong path. While passion is not the only way to fulfill your mission, most people would say that it is still important, not least because passion keeps you going through difficult times. Find what inspires you and never let it go.
There are no right or wrong answers
Here’s a bonus tip: Don’t let the process intimidate you or bring you down. Give yourself the time to explore your options before zeroing down on the final one. And while you exploring, indulge in some project-based learning exercises on Uable. Pick from a variety of subject matters and challenges, get creative, discover new talents and we’re confident you’ll find something you truly excel at AND enjoy!
Finally, the road to career discovery is not a straight path, but it is filled with great learnings and personal growth. Keep that in mind as you decide the best career option for the future, starting today. Happy exploring!